By on August 4, 2017

2016 Jaguar XJ interior - Image: JaguarYou don’t need to suffer from metathesiophobia to be uncomfortable with the wide variety of changes in the modern automotive industry.

Monostable shifters provide no firm detent when you’ve selected Drive, and often require a separate button for Park. Handbrakes that offer a level of modulation are quickly disappearing, replaced by electronic parking brakes. Touchscreens that require multiple menu steps — and seconds in which eyes are diverted from the road — are increasingly part and parcel of new car purchases at high and low price points.

Change is happening so fast and so often and in such unnecessary ways that there was much rejoicing when Honda revealed the 2018 Accord with both a volume and tuning knob, as if that was a bigger story than the dead V6, the discontinued coupe, and the seats being moved closer together to create an aura of space.

Fortunately, Jaguar will remain among the puritanical ranks. Jaguar will stick with the spartans. Jaguar will forego flashy transformations for the sake of primitive positioning. Jaguar’s climate controls will be operated via knobs for the foreseeable future. For old times’ sake.

Say what you will about the mama jaguar leading the baby jaguar across the forthcoming E-Pace’s windshield. Condemn Jaguar if you must for fleeing the persistent retro XJ design for the decidedly different X351 XJ styling since 2009. Question the necessity of adding excessive TVR-like boy racer addenda to the otherwise gorgeous F-Type sports car.

We can still all agree that Jaguar has a strong climate control knob game. In the world of upper-echelon climate control knob designs, Jaguar surely ranks near the top of the leaderboard. These knobs weren’t inherited from the fourth-gen Mustang during Jaguar’s tenure inside Ford Motor Company’s Premier Automotive Group.Jaguar F-Type SVR interior - Image: JaguarJaguar wants to keep it that way, AutoCar reports. While many automakers are positioning climate controls inside touchscreen infotainment units and many others utilize buttons to select higher and lower temperatures, Jaguar won’t adopt such new world tendencies.

“I’m a great believer in tactile controls with a mechanical feel,” Jaguar design director Ian Callum says. “It’s not quite right for Jaguar to have just touchscreens.”

Amen, brother. And so let it be.

[Images: Jaguar]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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28 Comments on “Forget Haptic Feedback – Jaguar Sees a Bright Future Ahead for Knobs...”

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    The headline is funny when you consider how the British frequently use the word knob.

  • avatar

    Offer more wood in your vehicles.

    If I’m in a Jaguar, I want to feel like a Keebler elf.

  • avatar

    My daughter’s Honda Fit has a screen in it. I don’t see any difference between looking away from the road to operate your control screen and looking at your phone to see a text. As far as I am concerned both are distracted driving. Your eyes belong on the road, not paging through an interface.

  • avatar

    I like knobs. The bigger the knob the better. Well, sometimes small knobs are good too.

  • avatar

    All this talk of jaguars and knobs makes me think of a scene in the Dudley Moore movie Crazy People.

  • avatar

    My Equinox has knobs for radio and A/C
    I can adjust all without taking my eyes off the road.

    Try that with the evil TV screens. FCA product i rented last week. I think it was 3 menu screens to go from A/C fan speed change to change from AM to FM on the radio.

    POS !

    • 0 avatar

      My G37 has knobs and the like as well… only problem is they are all the same size. Sometimes I turn down the temperature when I want to turn down the volume.

  • avatar

    Outside of specific applications like mixer boards where they make a lot of sense, though they were somewhat popular on consumer electronics in the ’80s slider potentiometers have never really replaced traditional shaft operated pots that use knobs.

    The knob is a very old piece of technology that works very intuitively for humans. Our phrase “turn on” a piece of electrical equipment comes from the history of electric lighting. Vintage light switches were rotary and operated by knobs. In that case, a simple toggle switch later proved to make more sense, but it’s interesting that the first try used knobs.

    I use thumbwheel pots on the Harmonicaster and it’s fascinating to watch how intuitive humans are when it comes to knobs.

  • avatar

    Right now many new cars have so many settings you couldn’t have knobs to do half of what they need. Infotainment is a mess of choices and worse is we have digital dashes that just simulate analog gauges. WTF! Not to mention the costs to fix these things. It’s going to be awhile before this get straightened out.

    In the meantime I’m glad my TSX is rather lame when it comes to all this stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      I can relate. Going from a 2007 to a 2011 is a big jump in the use of tech and poor interface that carmakers still struggle with.

    • 0 avatar

      The overwhelming majority of functions are rarely used, or set once and never touch again. A touch screen works fine for that. The problems is when the designers/stylists get stupid and put the use all the time functions in unintuitive places and ways. There is absolutely no reason that volume control should not be a knob. Ditto temperature. If it is something you use all the time, it should be a button or a knob. And even then, put it front and center. The placement of the volume knob in Audis makes me want to fly to Germany and strangle someone – put the thing up where it belongs, not back by my right elbow somewhere. I don’t care that there are steering wheel controls, I prefer a knob.

      Haptic feedback non-buttons simply suck. In the past few weeks I had both a Cadillac XTS and a Toyota Avalon that had that madness and they were both terrible. With the Toyota actually being MUCH worse than the Cadillac for recognizing button presses.

      The digital display of instruments doesn’t bother me as long as it doesn’t get too wild and crazy. I like being able to have the map right in front of me for instance. And in the long run it is probably cheaper and more reliable to have a screen than individual instruments. But of course, if it does break you are screwed. Not fixing it with a soldering iron like I have on a couple Volvos.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t understand the volume control debate. Don’t all cars have it on the steering wheel? That’s the best place for it. I don’t mess with the temperature control much, instead rely on the auto function, but I think I’m in the minority for that.

        • 0 avatar

          No they don’t. And the only thing worse than a nice big center console crammed with buttons are a couple of relatively small steering wheel spokes crammed full of buttons. Make the volume control knob on the driver’s side of the stereo area and put the tuning knob on the passenger side, and quit screwing around with 70-odd years of perfectly good ergonomics.

  • avatar

    Awesome that Jag is keeping the knob… too bad it’s connected to an electrical system that fails with alarming regularity.

  • avatar

    Is that “mama jaguar leading the baby jaguar” decal on the E-Pace windshield for real?? That is so cheesy and off-brand for Jaguar. Leave those silly Easter eggs to the Jeep Renegade.

  • avatar

    I’ve made it to 2017 without ever having a touch screen. How much longer can I make it if buying a newer car?

  • avatar

    Is this something Jaguar learned with the 09-15 XF?

  • avatar

    Good for them. The things you use constantly, radio volume and climate temp, should be knobs. Proper moving buttons for the next most frequently used controls are fine. The things you largely set and forget can be in menus on the screen. Monostable shifters are utterly awful, and should be banned. They serve no useful purpose that I can see. I do like BMWs monostable turn-signal stalk though, always have. It’s always in the same spot, and you can cancel with a tap in either direction.

    VW gets this right these days. My only complaint with the ergonomics of my GTI is that there should be a button to switch back to CarPlay/AA from the radio or media screens with one button push. Currently it takes two, one physical, one screen tap. BMW has a great thing in that they have a row of buttons that can be assigned to any function in the iDrive system. Having a couple of “do whatever you want” buttons would be great.

  • avatar

    After looking at several new cars recently, I have become radicalized: I will not, if I can avoid it, buy a car with a touch screen on the dash. Nor do I want digital displays where analog would serve better (e.g. speedometer).

    The new thing is to mount the display on top of the dash. Used to be you could get arrested for that (obstructing the view).

    Maybe someday the car makers will figure out that touch screens are an unsafe distraction. They ought to be outlawed.

    A couple of cars ago, I could still adjust the heat and the audio level in the night, by feel. Don’t tell me that all technology is progress.

  • avatar

    How about the panel of black rocker switches on the 1970’s E-Types and XJs. Ian, BRING THOSE BACK!

  • avatar

    I’m glad to see that Jaguar seems to be pandering to the older demographic. These should sell well to disillusioned Lincoln and Cadillac owners as replacements.

  • avatar

    I don’t know if it’s just because Jaguar is British or because they’re trying to be so hip (and to be fair, pulling it off damn well) that I’d actually think higher of them if more old people bought their products?

  • avatar

    This is what Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act has to say-

    Display screen visible to driver prohibited
    78 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway if the display screen of a television, computer or other device in the motor vehicle is visible to the driver. 2009, c. 4, s. 1.

    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the display screen of,

    (a) a global positioning system navigation device while being used to provide navigation information;

    (b) a hand-held wireless communication device or a device that is prescribed for the purpose of subsection 78.1 (1);

    (c) a logistical transportation tracking system device used for commercial purposes to track vehicle location, driver status or the delivery of packages or other goods;

    (d) a collision avoidance system device that has no other function than to deliver a collision avoidance system; or

    (e) an instrument, gauge or system that is used to provide information to the driver regarding the status of various systems of the motor vehicle. 2009, c. 4, s. 1.

    (3) Subsection (1) does not apply to the driver of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or police department vehicle. 2009, c. 4, s. 1.

    While this does allow some functions to be placed on a screen, it appears that anything related to the entertainment systems is illegal use. The restriction to “information” appears to prohibit the screen from being used to control those systems. Are all these things illegal?

    • 0 avatar

      I would say subsection e covers it and allows it. The screen is providing information related to the operation of the infotainment system. I don’t know of any car that will actually display “entertainment” on the screen out of the box while moving, just information about it. My M235i would play DVDs on the iDrive screen when the parking brake was on, but not while driving.

  • avatar

    I rarely use the hard buttons on my CRV, just the steering wheels controls for the radio.

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